Many new and aspiring writers, when writing flash fiction, write about what did happen instead of what is happening right now.
Image via Wikipedia
One of the best definitions of flash fiction that I’ve come across is, “Flash fiction is about capturing a moment in time.” This definition has several implications.
To capture a moment in time, the story has to take place as the reader is reading it even if the story is told in the past tense. In other words, the writer must “show” the reader what happened. That means use as little exposition as possible. Now using as little exposition as possible may sound backward; but exposition is explanation and if a writer is explaining what happened he or she is not showing what happened.
To show what happened, the writer has to get the characters inter-acting. And the characters must be inter-acting at the moment before the resolution.
Let’s take a divorce. A novelist might begin the story when the couple meet and start dating in college. A short story writer might start the story a year before the divorce when one partner begins an affair with someone that breaks up the marriage that ends in divorce. The flash fiction writer will capture the moment the deceived partner confronts the cheating partner and walks out the door for good.
In order for the reader to participate in the story, the flash fiction writer can’t tell the story in exposition. There has to be inter-action, there has to be story development and there probably has to be dialogue. For the reader to participate there must be a scene. Only by writing in scene can the reader hear and see what happened. Only by writing in scene can the writer show character and the movement toward resolution. Only by writing in scene will the reader believe what the writer writes because the reader will live in the story and become part of the world of emotions that the story represents.
This is how a writer can capture a moment. This is how to write dynamic flash fiction.